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Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Florida: What's the Difference?

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What's the Difference?

In Florida, there are two types of uncontested divorce: a simplified dissolution of marriage and a regular dissolution of marriage. Both are options when spouses agree on all essential matters related to ending their marriage. This includes division of property, debt allocation, spousal support, and, if applicable, child custody, support, and visitation.

Conversely, a contested divorce arises when spouses cannot find common ground on one or more critical issues. A contested divorce typically involves a much longer timeline (sometimes as long as a year or more). Furthermore, these cases may require mediation, a complicated discovery process, multiple court appearances, and possibly a trial.

Are Uncontested Divorces Better?

The key advantage of an uncontested divorce is its simplicity and speed. The couple can finalize their divorce without needing a prolonged court battle, often saving time, money, and stress. That said, this does not mean that an uncontested divorce is always possible or even preferable.

Though contested divorces have a reputation for being adversarial in nature, they are quite common. This is especially true when couples have complex financial assets or have been together for many years, making the dissolution of their union more challenging.

In fact, a contested divorce process may ultimately be the better option, including in situations where:

  • There is a significant imbalance in power or knowledge about the family's finances. A contested divorce, where transparency during the discovery process is prioritized, can better enable a fair division of property.
  • There has been a history of domestic violence, abuse, or coercion; the safer route may be a contested procedure, where legal protections can be more rigorously enforced.
  • One party is suspected of hiding assets, or there are complex financial considerations (such as businesses owned by one or both spouses). A contested divorce can provide the structure for a more thorough investigation.
  • Prenuptial agreements are in question. A contested divorce can provide a forum for these issues to be properly adjudicated.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types of uncontested divorces and what to expect from a contested divorce.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

To file for a simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida, certain conditions must be met. Both parties must agree to this process and sign the petition; neither party can seek alimony; both must agree on property division; and at least one party must meet the residency requirement of having lived in these states for at least six (6) months. Additionally, no minor or dependent children can be involved, nor can there be a pregnancy at the time of filing. Finally, the spouses must both attend the final hearing.

Note: by filing for a simplified dissolution of marriage, you waive your rights to a trial and an appeal.

Regular Dissolution of Marriage

In contrast, a regular dissolution of marriage, while still an uncontested process, does not require the stringent conditions of the simplified process. It is an option when couples have minor or dependent children, or when one spouse is pregnant.

The process involves preparing and filing more detailed documentation with the court compared to the simplified procedure, and there may be a need for a more formal, although agreed upon, financial disclosure.

Despite these differences, both spouses can still avoid a trial by agreeing on all terms of the divorce, making the regular dissolution a viable option for those who do not qualify for the simplified process but wish to avoid the complexities of a contested divorce.

The Contested Divorce Process in Florida: What to Expect

Due to its inherently complex nature, the contested divorce process in Florida can appear daunting. Couples facing a contested divorce should be prepared for a series of legal steps, including filing petitions and responses, the possibility of court-ordered mediation, and potential litigation.

Having an experienced attorney on your side, like ours at Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A., can be invaluable during this time. Our legal team excels in negotiating complex issues and has helped countless clients through incredibly challenging divorce scenarios.

Our attorneys are committed to client advocacy, minimizing stress, and promoting efficient outcomes, allowing you to focus on moving forward. In cases where disputes cannot be amicably resolved, our experienced divorce litigators are prepared to vigorously advocate for your interests in court.

Are you considering divorce? Reach out to our team online to schedule a consultation. 

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